Association of Fine Artists of Serbia calls for support

Members of the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia (ULUS) issued a call for support for their organisation after its work has recently been blocked.

Members of the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia (ULUS) call for support after the association’s legal functioning has been sabotaged through sudden changes made to ULUS’s profile in the Serbian Business Registers Agency.

Members of the ULUS’ Board of Directors, Supervisory Board, Statute Commission, Art Council and Court of Honor previously issued a joint statement explaining the blockage and its immediate consequences.

According to the statement, July 21, without prior notice, president of the ULUS’ Board of Directors Vojislav Klačar has been presented with a document issued by the Serbian Business Registers Agency (SBRA), showing that all existing members of the Board of Directors have been removed from the SBRA’s register, leaving one Mirjana Denkov Mraović as the sole representative of ULUS.

Two days later members of the ULUS’ working structure found out that the association stamp and journal were missing and that its bank accounts have been blocked.

The changes to the SBRA register are partly based on a legal dispute that has been going on for nine years, which was started after several disputed ULUS’s assembly sessions dating in 2012 and 2013. In the meantime, all until 2019, the Association was working with diminished capacities.

In December 2019 an assembly session was held that later turned out to be of great importance for ULUS. It received unprecedented attention and support on the part of the membership, with as much as 178 members taking part in it. At the same meeting a working structure was decided and its members voted who introduced much needed changes in the way ULUS operates.

This working structure was circumvented by a parallel structure whose members now claim to be the true representatives of ULUS. They managed to turn in written proceedings of a phantom ULUS assembly session, allegedly held mid July, to SBRA.

Members of the ULUS’ working structure from 2019 point out that this session was attended by members who hold no decision-making legitimacy and several non-members.

Still, SBRA was forced to acknowledge the session proceedings and also use it as a basis for further changes in ULUS’s profile based on the fact that the proceedings had official stamping on it – made by the same stamp that has since been found missing from ULUS’s headquarters.

Members of the ULUS’ working structure from 2019 are now under pressure to deliver the management of ULUS’ official channels of communication etc. to Mirjana Denkov Mraović and her associates. They so far refused to do so, and claim that they won’t give up on and data or documents until all issues are settled legally.

The ULUS’ Supervisory Board voted in 2019 reacted to the blockage by issuing a request for legal interpretation of the disputed court decisions, and the Board of Directors formed a commission dedicated to overcoming the legal problems at hand.

Autumn exhibition of the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia (ULUS), Art Pavilion “Cvijeta Zuzorić”, 2020. Photo: Lav Mrenović

Members who have been leading ULUS since December 2019 also issued a call for support on Thursday

In it, they address ULUS’ members and the general public, asking if they prefer for the most representative Serbian association in fine arts to be lead by a person who received a support of 33 members nine years ago, or the working structure decided on one of the biggest assembly sessions in the association’s history. They also ask does a person who used fraud and conspiracy to get their hands on the official stamp deserve support.

Members of the existing (now blocked) deciding structure of ULUS also reminded the membership and the general public of the positive changes they managed to bring about since January 2020, albeit being all the while faced with inherited problems and functioning during the pandemics.

Among the positive results of the 2019 management they list: an increase in financial support for ULUS’ programmes; increased interest in joining the association (especially among young artists); introduction of new modes of work and organising within the association (including the founding of working groups focused on solving working and existential problems artists face); a continuity of dialogue with relevant institutions and decision-makers, including the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Belgrade city Secretariat for Culture, etc.; improvements in communicating with and informing the membership including the setting of a new, functional website and other contemporary communication channels; bringing the exhibition programme to a higher level, and thus improving its visibility to the professional and broad public; raising awareness of ULUS’ importance for domestic and international public and improving communication with young artists.

With that in mind members of the 2019 ULUS’ management called upon the association’s members and the general public to affirm legitimacy of the bodies and overall structure decided upon at the assembly session held in 2019. In addition, they appealed for the persons who allowed the abuse of the official ULUS’ stamp to be held responsible.

As we wrote earlier, the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia has faced different pressures since late 2019. Still, even in chalenging conditions, the management that has lead the association in the meantime has done much to improve socioeconomic position of artists.

I.K.

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